Mitt Romney Headlines Christie Birthday Fundraiser

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -
Gov. Chris Christie (L) on Wednesday laughs while Mitt Romney speaks at an event celebrating Christie’s 52nd birthday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Gov. Chris Christie (L) on Wednesday laughs while Mitt Romney speaks at an event celebrating Christie’s 52nd birthday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Former Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney drew a sharp contrast between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and President Barack Obama at a fundraiser Wednesday night in honor of Christie’s 52nd birthday.

“These things aren’t happening under the president because he doesn’t quite know what to do. And I’ve got to tell you,” said Romney, turning his attention to Christie, “I am proud to be on the stage with a man who knows what to do, who works hard for the people of New Jersey.”

Christie, who is considering a run for president in 2016, returned the favor by heaping praise on Romney, whom he’d supported in 2012.

“All have to say is this: Wouldn’t our country be a … better place if this man was the president of the United States?” Christie began, to applause. “The American people, unfortunately, don’t have the benefit of his leadership. But Mary Pat and I have the benefit of their friendship.”

Romney kicked off the event by leading two renditions of “Happy Birthday” in honor of Christie, who was presented an elaborate cake. The sold-out event was on track to raise $600,000 for the state Republican Party.

While Christie regaled the crowd with tales of his recent trip to Mexico and his family’s failure to buy him a birthday gift, Romney at one point awkwardly told the story of how he’d prepared for a Christie visit to his home by loading up on food from his state’s best Italian restaurant.

“I had enough to feed — well, Ann and I are still eating the food,” he said. But Christie, he said, “sat there and picked at a couple of pieces of lettuce.” He said he’d found out later Christie had recently had a weight-loss operation that limits how much he can eat.